Staff Reporters
Jul 8, 2021

AirAsia boards Gojek's Thai business to build superapp proposition

By acquiring Gojek's Thai operations, the Malaysia-based budget airline is seeking a regional expansion of its superapp offering.

AirAsia boards Gojek's Thai business to build superapp proposition

Malaysian airline AirAsia Group is set to acquire Gojek's Thailand business in a stock swap, a move designed to bolster its superapp proposition.

AirAsia said it would buy Gojek's Thai operation, which includes ride-hailing, food delivery and payments, in exchange for a 4.76% stake in its lifestyle platform, AirAsia SuperApp. The deal values the superapp division at around US$1 billion, AirAsia said.

The Gojek app will continue to operate for existing users in Bangkok through to July 31, after which it will become part of AirAsia SuperApp. The existing Gojek team in Thailand will also move over to AirAsia. AirAsia said it intends to add new offerings to Gojek's existing ecosystem in Thailand, such as groceries and beauty items.

It will seek regional expansion into new markets like Chiang Mai and Phuket in the "near future", it said.

Gojek meanwhile said it intends to increase investment in its Vietnam and Singapore operations. Gojek CEO Kevin Aluwi said in a statement these markets are "providing us with the best return on investment and strategic growth opportunities".

The agreement forms part of AirAsia's pivot into building a comprehensive digital business as its fleet of airplanes remains mostly grounded during the ongoing pandemic. The budget airline has been expanding into industries as diverse as food delivery and logistics since early 2020, and has witnessed strong growth in its media unit, which accounted for 1% of annual turnover in under a year.

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia group CEO, said the Gojek deal will "turbo charge our ambitions in this space to become a leading Asean challenger super app".

Fernandes said the company has established over 15 different non-airline products and lifestyle services on its digital ecommerce platform in Malaysia. Last week, it applied for a digital banking licence in Malaysia. 

AirAsia Group is exploring the possibility of listing either its AirAsia Digital or AirAsia SuperApp in the US as early as this year, Fernandes told Bloomberg on Thursday (July 8). He said the company had received a lot of interest from special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food-delivery giant Grab Holdings announced its intention to go public in the US after merging with a US-based SPAC in April.

Gojek merged with Indonesian ecommerce giant Tokopedia in May, to form GoTo Group. The new entity is planning an IPO.

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